NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ford 300
Topics: Ford 300
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
November 15, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We're going to roll into our post-race press conferences here for the Ford 300 at Homestead Miami. I appreciate these guys' patience up here today. We've got three of our competitors, including the team owner.
Our second place finisher in today's race, Kyle Busch. He drives the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota. And our 2008 NASCAR Nationwide series Raybestos Rookie of the Year is Landon Cassill. He drives for J. R. Motorsports. Congratulations to you, Landon; congratulations to you, Dale, Jr.
I'm going to ask Landon right now your thoughts about winning the Rookie of the Year award.
LANDON CASSILL: I'm just really proud of everybody, my whole team, for working so hard for me this year. I ran a limited schedule, and I had some really good races, and at times it didn't look so good, and at times it looked great.
You know, it was a real compliment to me, and it was flattering when we went to Phoenix, and all my guys knew it was my last race, and their focus was getting me the finish I needed. You know, I can't thank them enough for that, for being that focused on winning Rookie of the Year.
My guys, National Guard, supported me all year, Dale, Jr. who owns my car and the team, and it's an honor, and I hope I'm a good rookie.
THE MODERATOR: Dale, your thoughts about Landon winning this award?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I was proud of Landon. He did a good job for the most part of the year. He got the finishes he needed to win. He had some pretty good competition, I think Brian, and he got some really good finishes at parts of the year and showed a lot of good -- showed he's got a lot of talent.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, you had an outstanding season in the NASCAR Nationwide series, I believe a record-tying ten victories, second-place finish here today. You've got to feel good about how you performed in the series this year and today's race. Your thoughts?
KYLE BUSCH: It was a good day, I guess, today. But we started behind a little bit this weekend. We unloaded and we weren't great, so we came a long way and we built a lot of crutch into that car to make it go fast. Unfortunately there in the last run it was too loose to start and then all of a sudden it just flipped a switch and started getting tight.
After the race there was damage on the front end, so I don't know if there was a culprit or not. Never really had that all day, just unfortunate there that we couldn't keep up with the 60.
But a solid effort by the team, once again. You know, if somebody goes for the championship in the 18 or the 20 next year, can certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
Q. Kyle, can you talk about the 20 team winning the owners' championship? Do you feel like you were a significant part of that?
KYLE BUSCH: I wasn't a significant part of it. I only won one race in the thing. But, you know, they had a great car all year long, as well. You know, for it to come down to the final race like that, it was pretty cool to see, and for Joey to run the amount of races that he ran in the car and to win the races that he won, I believe, at Kentucky, he did his part of the deal.
You know, everybody that was in that car, myself, Joey, Denny and Tony all won, and we're all a part of that deal. But the big pat on the back and the big support needs to go back to the guys at the shop, Dave Rogers and Jason Ratcliff who weren't here the rest of the year and for the rest of the guys that stepped up for the rest of the year to make that thing go fast and stay up front.
Q. Landon, how stressful was it to know that your championship, your rookie title, hinged on a race that you weren't in? And, also, the hopes that this catapults you into something better next year?
LANDON CASSILL: That's funny because I was spotting for David Green tonight, and one eye on David and one eye on Brian all night. But I was just kind of watching with one eye closed, just kind of cringing the whole time, especially when Brian was in the Top 10. He had a good race car early on.
You know, we really could have easily started and parked a car and gotten the rookie points, but we knew what races we had to run, and we did what we had to do. I'm glad that it turned out the way it did. I had fun up on the spotter's stand tonight anyways.
Next year -- you know, the economy is tough right now and everybody is struggling. It's just tough right now. You know, I think you probably even see the championship team struggling. We've seen that in the past.
Rookie of the Year is a very prestigious award. You know, I've said before that it's something that Raybestos has been involved with for many number of years and something that as a child growing up Raybestos Rookie of the Year was a phrase that I had known since I was a little kid. So to be able to have a title like that is awesome, and hopefully it does catapult into a ride or something.
Q. For Dale, I guess it's kind of the same questions, what does this do for Landon for next year with you?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, we just hope somebody is going to call us here in the next several months so we can put something together for next year and get the 5 car back to a full-time program. We've been searching around for several different deals, and we actually had a program for 18 races, but it ended up conflicting with something else way, way down the line, so it wasn't even anything to do with me or my team.
But it's tough. You find something, you think you've got it saved and you think you're going to have a sponsorship, and it don't work out. It's real tough.
Q. Kyle, you led a lot of the race there through the middle portion, and then Carl was able to get by you. Did your car change or the track change? What happened?
KYLE BUSCH: I alluded to it a little bit earlier. I think that the culprit was a piece of damage on the front end. There was a hole in the bottom grille screen, so I'm not sure if that was exactly it or not, what that does in the tunnel as far as front down-force goes. But I just got so tight all of a sudden. The guys said they didn't see that hole there on the final pit stop coming down Pit Road or anything, so we don't know when it happened.
I guess I run over something and got a hole there, which just got me extremely tight, and I couldn't even get the front end of the car to stick to keep up with the 60. It was just not meant to be tonight. I'm blaming it on the hole.
Q. This is for Kyle and also for Dale. Last night the Truck championship was decided by seven points. It's determined in a format that includes every race of the season. Tonight the Nationwide championship was determined by 21 points with every race of the season counting. You know, tomorrow is going to be the end of the Chase and a guy is probably going to win it in a runaway. What are your thoughts on maybe going back to a regular points system?
KYLE BUSCH: To me, I don't know. I mean, you've got the guys running NASCAR who run NASCAR for a reason. So we don't know a whole lot. Looks like there's more exciting championship format the other way around if you look back at the way Jimmie has come back in the past ten races or whatever, and he still has the lead in the old system, too. But it's a little bit closer. At least three guys, I think, would have a shot for it here in the final race.
But it is what it is, and, you know, I guess it was broken beforehand and now they thought they fixed it and now it's broke again. I don't know what to do to it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I can't really add anything to that. You know, you can't keep tweaking on it and keep messing with it. I mean, it is what it is. The old system would have worked this year, next year it might not have. Maybe if we were in the old system, everything would have been different. But we might have a runaway steal. Kyle was pretty far ahead. Chase makes you race a little differently and things happen, and whatever. I don't know if you can just -- it wouldn't matter. I mean, it is what it is.
Q. For Landon, you and Brian are close friends, and I guess what's the card game going to be like next Monday?
LANDON CASSILL: He'll probably beat me, and I don't know, it'll be good. We've been friends the whole time, all through this, and I don't see why that would change. I mean, we're good buddies and good competitors, as well. I hope it doesn't change. But he'll probably beat me at cards; they usually do.
Q. Kyle, despite all your success this season with the Car of Tomorrow, is there anything you would do to change it to get a better feel for the car? I mean, can you just kind of give an overview of what it's been like to drive that model this year?
KYLE BUSCH: Man, that was the wrong question to ask me (laughter). I'm going to keep my mouth shut.
It's very, very frustrating to drive that thing every day or every week. You know, it is what it is, and there's a lot of things that they could do to help us out to help it drive better. They just never listen, don't want to listen. They're going to leave it the way it is, no model change, pretty much because they don't want to -- the economy is bad and all that stuff, whatever. They're not going to change.
There's a new nose for the Ford F-150 and they're not changing that. All the trucks are staying the same and all the Nationwide series is staying the same, everything because of the economy. The Cup cars might as well stay the same and we'll have the same shows next year that we had this year probably.
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